The Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting and what can be expected from it

The Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting and what can be expected from it

Talks will revolve around the refugee issue and the Cyprus issue

Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ upcoming meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, though not expected to last long, seems likely to help for a fresh start to be made in Greece’s relations with Turkey. All communication channels between the two sides have been opened in recent days, culminating in the phone communication the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had with his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos.

Formally, it was stated that the communication was made in order for Akar to congratulate Panagiotopoulos’s appointment two months ago, though bilateral issues related to the two ministries were also discussed. Indeed, on the two counties’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs level, there have been successive contacts in preparation for the meeting.

Neither the departure of the Yavuz drill from Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone should be considered a coincidence, nor the information regarding the Fatih drill leaving, with the Black Sea as its destination. Furthermore, the Turkish prosecutor’s decision to file a charge of military espionage against the two Greek servicemen arrested in Edirne in March 2018 might be more than just a coincidence.

The main topics of the prime minister’s discussion with the Turkish president are expected to be two. The first one is the refugee issue, as Athens is concerned about increased refugee flows from the coast of Asia Minor. There is also strong skepticism after the threats made by Turkish officials and Erdogan about opening the border to let refugees travel to Europe. Ankara is asking for financial support and support for its plan to create a safe zone within Syria.

On this issue, Ernogan seeks the support of the Mitsotakis government, as Greece is able to ask for further back up on a European issue, both for Athens and for Ankara, in order for a new refugee wave to be avoided.

Currently, approximately 4 million refugees from Syria are found in Turkey, with the country claiming to have spent 40 billion $. The EU has decided to help Turkey with 3 + 3 billion euros, on the basis of the 2016 “declaration”, with Ankara taking in the refunds and pledging to “seal” its borders, while Brussels promise financial aid as well as the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish citizens. Turkey’s president says the EU is not implementing what has been agreed. In a telephone conversation with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor allegedly asked him “tell us what you want besides the 6 billion”, with Erdogan reminding her of the amounts Ankara has been spending. The Turkish president is threatening Europe with a new refugee wave from Idlib, from where 3 million more refugees may be brought to Turkey in the event that the situation in the region becomes worse.

The second important and significant issue in the meeting will be that of the Cyprus issue, alongside the gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis and Erdogan might be able to push all sides towards a fresh start in talks, though the starting point hasn’t been made clear.

The prime minister had a telephone conversation with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday, where they talked about the latest developments ahead of their trip to New York. According to information, during the talks both parts provided briefing on developments on the Cyprus issue and on energy matters, as well as on the Turkish activity in the region.

The two sides also discussed about their upcoming meetings during the UN General Assembly, and agreed to meet in New York after the prime minister’s contact with the Turkish president, in order to re-coordinate.

Nicos Anastasiades will travel to New York with specific objectives, such as making strong statements before the UN General Assembly. In all his contacts he will mention before the UN Secretary General both Turkey’s and the Turkish Minister’s Mevlut Cavusoglu’s activities; on the subject of Famagusta he will decide on his actions taking into account the report that will be put before him today, while he will pursue a joint meeting with Mustafa Akinci and Antonio Guterres in October, as were the initial arrangements.

The Turkish Cypriot leader, who appears to be at odds with Ankara, will travel to New York on Monday.

However, before discussing the Cyprus issue, Ankara has put Famagusta on the negotiating table, with Turkey’s Foreign Minister stating that “we are getting ready to open Famagusta. In the eastern Mediterranean, no one can make any suggestions to us or stop us. We will support our rights, as well as those of the Turkish-Cypriots”, he added.

Turkish-Cypriots have already begun registering property in Famagusta since late July. It was then the pseudo-state’s “Minister of Foreign Affairs” Kudret Osersay visited the city and reported that for the first time after 45 years such a large delegation began research in the area.

Turkish Vice-President: “We will open Famagusta! Most of the plots are Turkish! “

Similar statements were made by Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay during an Ankara event on Friday, stressing that “Famagusta will open as soon as the properties are returned fairly based on historical evidence”.

This reference to “historical evidence” is an important detail, as he claimed that historical research supported by Turkey has found that most of the land in Varosha belongs to Turkish organizations!

He also referred to land and properties that were “illegally handed over to individuals who belonged in the British colonial administration in the 1950s” and added that there were documents “showing this illegality”. In essence, the Turkish Vice President is questioning the property titles and legal rights of the citizens of Cyprus, after accusing the British administration before Cyprus was established!

Oktay accused the Greek-Cypriot side of acting as the sole owner of the island. As he said, Ankara would not approve the initiatives of the Greek-Cypriot side, which he accused of “believing to be the sole owner of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean”. /ibna